The Long Cold Open to Barbarism or Socialism
or Party Space Alpha
Recently, I bumped into a few of those unfortunate zombies propelled into mindless shuffling by the absolute horror of the hollow center; and, if it’s the case that the concept of the hollow center draws a blank—the dank whiteness of the silver screen before some Clint Eastwood shooting-gun-male-sociopath-revenge-drama—try to imagine a vast pit of waste, much like the overarching metaphor of Don DeLillo’s mind-numbingly boring Underworld. All in all, though, and to cut my tendency toward preciousness to at best shorter, the hollow center is cra(aa)p—the hollow center is a space endlessly differentiated and endlessly atomizing and endlessly unfeeling, and as is the case with the very idea of all things endless (whatever that may mean), time and history stops to matter, specifically history. The end of history has already happened, though, with the fall of the Soviet Union—at least according to Frances Fukuyama. He’s still alive, right?
or think of the hollow center like this: it’s the forever-noon party—or whatever time of day the elderly booze up and kick down—of Hypercharged Capital held at Party Space Alpha.
Rand says, “The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt.”
The crowd cheers and chants, “Galt! Who the fuck is Galt!?”
Friedman says, “Shock, shock, shock!”
The crowd cheers and chants, though quizzingly, “Who is Galt?”
Hayek says something about force from afar as a corrective while the crowd tries to find the one voice who said, “Galt is Atlas, no? Greek stuff, I think.”
After speeches and rants, lobotomized servants serve finger food from gold platters, and Ted Nugent takes the stage, humps his guitar and sings about pedophilia and freedom.
And look at those skeletons shuffle and jig, some pumping their fists and whiplashing their necks.
Joy and sanity, re-enter my world. You enter Party Space Alpha, try to get a feel for the place, and you think:
Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich Hayek are keynote speakers, brought back from the dead by scientism-magic to white-counter the supposed browning of the world, or, as some religious zealots opine, the existential threat of the tainting of the world.
So this is where I’ve come to.
You mingle, and look, there’s one of those Zoomer-influencers you’ve heard about. Always be gramming.
“What I’m trying to do, see,” the Zoomer-influencer says, “is to make jokes about race and fucking and such, you know, make them great again, hint, hint.” (Yes, he says hint, hint out loud.) Also, ”That dead man hanging. Sad, very sad. I already said I’m sorry, ok!” He storms off, leaving you to think about things when a hand, moist, so moist, graces your shoulder.
You turn around. A somewhat cross-eyed dude—on closer inspection, however, he’s not cross-eyed, just dead-eyed—speaks to you in an affected, puppet-like voice, like his vocal cords are somehow placed inside his Adam’s apple.
The dead-eyed dude with weird Adam’s apple-voice says, “Want to discuss ideas?”
You nod. You’re already here, you think, so why not. You throw a few ideas up for consideration and deliberation: Socialized housing and healthcare, that’d be a good start, you think, after which you mention structures of oppression and that they’re crap; you mention essentialism, the idea of Spinozian substances and God-given grace and soul and pineal gland homunculus’ puppetry and phrenology and sociobiology and Steven Pinker, and how these fucked up descriptive statements prescribe fucked up social agendas; you skip from Hume (you can’t experience causality, am I right) to Kant (Let’s critique pure reason, am I right) through Hegel (History isn’t purely spiritual, am I right) to Marx. Also, because why not, and it’s not really an ad hominem, you mention that it would be quite funny to create a Japanese game show where libertarians, fascists, conservatives, and dangerously daft liberals are mildly tortured for the prize of cool trinkets.
The dead-eyed dude nods and furrows his brow and smacks his tongue—a hint of anxiousness, like eels speeding his dead eye-water, momentarily turns him somewhat human. He says:
“I see. But you see, I want to discuss high-level ideas, like do you have an iPhone? If so, you’re no oppressed.”
You leave because the dead-eyed weird dude was about to have a stroke, or so it seemed, ranting about oppression O(h)lympics and whatever else.
From the corner of the vast space, a dwarfed dude with a boyish bowl-cut speedily espouses that facts don’t care about your emotions and that the labor theory of value is anachronistic balderdash. He espouses this to a party-fun-house-mirror, in training for debate-destroying. To his right, arms crossed, stands a gang of clean-shaven dudes. They all wear Fred Perry- shirts. They’re all sweaty, and their sweat forms a cloud, and the cloud spells: We Are Disenfranchised Also, Blue Lives Matter. Also, one of the dudes holds a katana. Lord knows why. Another dead-eyed dude-bro-boy close by—there’s so many of them, more or less affective, this one like a flat line—explains that the Lord is dead, which, sure, you think, sounds like a shame.
In dull monotone, the Flatliner continues:
“The hadith… the muslem or Mos-Lem religion, Islam—that explains the katana. It’s a necessary precaution to ward off the onslaught—and don’t take me out of context, please, I’m only ideating like Socrates in the, eh, in the Atheneum.
“What onslaught?” you ask.
“It’s a moral priority to honestly and openly assess the geopolitical and, eh, moral consequences of the actual content of the Quran, and, eh… so, turning a blind eye to, eh, to statistically significant increases in, eh, rape and… so rape and terror, yes terror—that’s not only morally ambiguous, it’s morally vacuous, and my contention and intention as a civil Western…”
“Sorry to interrupt, but I do wonder what you think about this, Mr. Flatline: Socrates was deemed dangerous and such, right, and he was killed by the state for riling up the hoi polloi, for advancing critical thinking and debate. He was force-fed that killing drink, right, the one that killed him off in increments from feet to head. So, as a latter-day Socrates, will you help me understand if there is an analogy between being forced to drink the killing drink and, how should I phrase it—being coerced to drink the Kool-Aid, in that both drinks literally kills off something? I know it’s somewhat heady and not entirely coherent, but you know, nothing is entirely coherent. Contradictions and that.”
“Well, this is typical muddying of the water…”
“Or muddying the fluid? Kool-Aid, killing drink, Kool-Aid, killing drink…”
“Woo-woo. If you look at the end of my first book, in the last footnote of the epilogue, I clearly refer to a footnote in a blog post about this subject, and that footnote, if only you’d just read it—it clearly refers to what I said in my podcast some year or so ago, so.”
You leave, not daring to continue what already initially was a torturous exchange. You start to feel heavy and kind of fragmented at the same time. Weird.
Somewhere else in Part Space Alpha an orange blob in diapers eats hamburgers and ribs and chocolate and wipes the drooping and drooling corners of his mouth with the flag of Palestine while a hunched over assistant takes notes:
NEED TO BUY MORE FOOD FOR LEADER. (It’s so Alpha to capitalize notes.)
Someone fires a gun into the air and laughs amidst applause. Such a nice gun! The orange blob stops munching and laughs without it sounding like laughter. He just opens his mouth and shows his teeth. He says:
“My guy. Give him a tank.” He realizes, shouts: “Where’s my African American!”
No one responds or arrives. There’s few to no black or brown people in Party Space Alpha; also, quite a few women dare venture into Party Space Alpha, because… Party Space Alpha.
Hunched over one of the few women present, Slender Man in a fedora and a pinstriped suit berates and gestures and cries a little:
“The absence of women in Party Space Alpha forms the materiality of the legitimacy of the perceived subordination of those young men to whom the existential and individual necessity of sexual intercourse is denied. If only these young men were allowed to slap and slap happily, there’d be mental equilibrium.”
Enough. You exit by the back door, unto the Wasteland, your only refuge from the constant violence of Party Space Alpha, not feeling morally vacuous for being ok with the idea of this vast space somehow eating itself to death. So, Party Space Alpha is the hollow center. It WILL fuck you up